At long last in an indifferent season that is turning out to be just a little embarrassing, we come to a bit of a defining moment. A day when, if we don't get it right, it really could all be over from another year. For if we lose on Saturday at QPR and Palarse win at Watford, we'll be due the same fare, with the added attraction of Swansea away, next season.
And one half of that possibility, a defeat at Loftus Road, can by no means be ruled out.
QPR, in 14th place on 55 points, are rather better than they used to be - and even back then they beat us 1-0 - and are currently one of only 6 clubs to be unbeaten in their last 5 home games. In fact, after losing their first 3 home games without scoring, they've dragged themselves clear of the relegation zone over the last 3 months and have now had just one single home defeat - 2-4 to Burnley in the middle of February - since losing to Palarse on December 4th. That's eleven games with 7 wins and 3 draws, including two thumping 3-0 victories over both Stoke and Bristol City.
In fact, it could all be over by half-time, as, rather surprisingly, there's nobody better in the whole of the fizzies over the first 45. They've scored more goals, 33, during the first half than anyone else and have scored most "points" by half-time after being in front at the interval 18 times and drawing 18 times and there's not been a lot for manager, Luigi De Canio, to do over their half-time cuppa as they've only been behind on 7 occasions. The apprehensive Addicks, by comparsion, have only been in front at the break on a meagre 10 occasions out of 43 games, and have been losing the same number of times. A case for wondering why we need 45 minutes to get it right could be argued, except that our half-time figures are almost the same as top of the table WBA.
And whilst the Addicks can still somehow boost the most victories over top half opposition, 10, it somehow seems appropriate that, after all the problems with supposedly crap teams this season, we are finally undone at the home of a team in 14th spot.
But, for those of you out there that still cling to slender hopes of a revival you should take a look at the games history. For you'll be pleased to learn that we are unbeaten on our last 5 visits there, with 4 victories and a draw, our last defeat being in the old First Division 19 years ago in 1989. Overall at QPR we've had 8 wins and 11 defeats in 29 games.
The top goalscorer for the hoops is the Hungarian international, number 10 Ákos Buzsaky, supposed to be a midfielder, but currently on 10 goals. Catching up fast, however, is new-boy Patrick Agyemang, the ex Dons and Gills Ghanaian international from Walthamstow, brought from Preston during the January window, and now on 8 goals in 14 games.
As for the Addicks, we at last have a settled team, at least until its all over when the kids are rumoured to be appearing. Well, settled as far as Pards is concerned anyway, the fans opinion being somewhat different.
So with Randolph again being given the nod in front of Elliot, the only choice open to Pards is whether or not to include Lee Cook against his boyhood heroes and against the team he played for from 2002 to 2007. Bearing that in mind, and with the result being far more important than the style, perhaps there's a case for a starting ZiZi-Holland-Semedo-Ambrose midfield with two up front to stifle Rangers ambitions before applying the killer punch in the second half.
Prediction? With no less than 10 1-1's behind us who can resist another one. A draw would, of course, offer that just barely possible, but tantalizing prospect of being 6 points behind Palarse with 2 to play. An obvious scenario to aim for then for the Addicks.